Involved in a Rear-End Auto Accident?
If you have been involved in an auto accident in Greater Los Angeles, there is a strong chance that it was a rear-end collision. This is because rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accidents nationwide. Learn more about what to do when you’re involved in a rear-end crash, which California Vehicle Codes apply for determining fault, and when to hire an auto accident lawyer.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, out of the approximately 6 million auto accidents that occur on U.S. roadways each year, over 40% of these are rear-end accidents. A crucial question for those involved in a rear-end collision might be, “How can I prove that the accident was not my fault?” Fortunately, California law weighs heavily in favor of individuals who have been rear-ended in this type of collision, making for a strong case against the rear-ender offender.
California Vehicle Code sections 21703 and 22350
- Vehicle Code Section 21703: This code section requires a driver to maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of their own. This code section does not give a specific distance but relies upon the subjective standard of a distance that is “reasonable and prudent.” Vague language like this means that a police officer has wide discretion to apply 21703, even under circumstances when the driver could have been several car lengths away.
- Vehicle Code Section 22350- Also known as “speeding,” this is the most commonly applied vehicle code section because, frankly, drivers often drive over the speed limit and speeding is the number one cause of rear-end collisions. Driving over the posted speed limit dramatically increases a person’s chances of causing a rear-end impact due to the simple fact that the faster a vehicle is moving, the greater the time and distance are needed to come to a complete stop.
What if I Have to Suddenly Stop and am Rear-Ended?
A driver may need to come to a sudden stop for any number of reasons: a child darting into the street chasing a ball, the driver ahead suddenly slamming on the brakes or merging in front of you, or a sudden obstacle appearing ahead. Even in these sudden and unforeseen circumstances, the driver behind your vehicle has a duty to drive at a safe speed and safe distance, codified in the vehicle code sections referenced above. This duty is amplified when there are conditions making safe speed and distance even more critical, such as inclement weather, a traffic bottleneck, or low visibility. There are innumerable reasons why a driver may need to suddenly stop, and the law is constructed to not penalize drivers for doing so, but rather to penalize drivers who are following the vehicle ahead too closely or moving too fast.
Tailgating and Accidents
Tailgating is the practice of driving too closely to the vehicle in front of you, or not allowing a safe distance between the front of your car and the rear of their car.
Tailgating is actually illegal in California—California Vehicle Code section 21703 states: “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.” A violation could net you a minimum $238 fine, not including potential insurance premium hikes and penalties.
Tailgating leads to rear-end accidents because in the event that the vehicle in front stops abruptly, those following too closely are not able to stop quickly enough to prevent a collision.
It takes a vehicle traveling at 35 MPH an average of 135 feet to come to a complete stop on dry pavement. These numbers increase with speed—cars travelling 55 MPH require 265 feet to stop, and at 65 MPH this distance increases to 344 feet. Wet pavement increases the distance required to come to a complete stop. Much of this has to do with the physics of forward momentum, but the figure also factors in the delay between when the front car stops and when the driver of the rear car notices and reacts—in other words, it takes many drivers a second or two to realize that the car in front of them has begun to slow or stop.
How Prevalent is Tailgating?
One survey found that:
- 19% of young drivers admitted to tailgating, compared with 15% of middle aged and 6% of senior drivers.
- Women were as likely as men to admit to tailgating.
- Men who drive sports cars are more likely to admit to tailgating (23%) than those who drive SUV’s (18%); however, the opposite is the case with women drivers—20% of female sports car drivers admitted to tailgating, versus 25% of SUV drivers.
Another survey reported that:
- 74% of survey participants had been tailgated in the previous 6 months.
- Only 11% admitted to tailgating another vehicle.
- 47% did not know the safe driving distance.
The inconsistencies in these numbers gesture towards the difficulty in generating accurate statistics from self-reported data; however, it is clear that tailgating is a relatively common practice that has been proven to contribute to rear-end crashes.
What Is a Safe Distance?
Although there is not a specific standard that applies to all vehicles, there are a few general rules of thumb when trying to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you:
- Allow about 1 car length per 10 MPH of speed (so, for example, if you are travelling 60 MPH, allow roughly 6 car lengths of space between your vehicle and the one in front).
- Choose a marker on the road (for example a traffic sign) and count the amount of time between when the car in front of you passes the marker, and when your car passes. There should be at least 3 seconds between when the back of the front car passes the marker and when the front of your car reaches the marker.
- Allow an extra second or two if it is raining or the pavement is wet.
Being Rear-Ended Does Not Guarantee Success in your Case
A word of caution: Being rear-ended does not automatically mean the other driver will be placed at fault. There are many circumstances where a driver who has been rear-ended can still be placed at fault for the collision. To preserve your rights and ensure that you are not placed at fault for this type of accident in Greater Los Angeles, you need a personal injury attorney who understands the nuances of the law and the appropriate evidence and arguments to put forward to ensure you are not placed at fault for a rear-end crash.
Time is of the essence when involved in an automobile accident. To preserve your legal rights, get the appropriate medical care you need and solidify your case for optimal results, contact The Dominguez Firm right away. The award-winning lawyers at The Dominguez Firm have helped thousands of clients get the compensation they deserve for injuries sustained in wide array of practice areas such as car accidents, premises liability cases, wrongful death, motorcycle collisions, pedestrian accidents, bus accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, construction injuries, catastrophic injuries, and more.
Consult Our Rear-End Auto Accident Lawyers Today
The Dominguez Firm specializes in advocating for clients who have been injured in rear-end collisions. Notable rear-end verdicts and settlements include:
- $8,000,000 for a motorcyclist who was rear-ended by a motor vehicle.
- $11,700,00 jury verdict for an auto v. auto rear-end accident.
The Dominguez Firm has won over half a billion dollars for injured clients, and for over 30 years has successfully resolved thousands of auto accident cases throughout Greater Los Angeles. If there is no recovery, there is no fee! Call us now for a free consultation: (800) 818-1818.